Frequently asked questions

Why should I donate?

When you donate blood, you are giving back to your community. Blood donated to The Blood Alliance stays in our community to benefit local patients in our area hospitals, which is not always the case with other blood collection agencies. In addition, population growth, medical advances and increasing blood safety measures are causing an increase in local demand that exceeds our donation rates.

What are the benefits for me as a blood donor?

  • The campus blood drives and the donor center's location on the Mayo Clinic campus make it easy and convenient to donate blood.
  • You will receive a free mini-physical, which includes blood pressure and iron level measurements, and cholesterol test.
  • Both whole blood donation and automated donation are available.
  • You may qualify for the Recipient Benefits Program, which provides financial assistance to blood donors or those belonging to a group or business that holds regular blood drives with the community blood bank. Call the blood center for more information.

Who can donate?

Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and must be at least 17 years of age (16 with parental permission). During your donation appointment you will complete a brief health questionnaire to make sure blood donation is safe for you and the recipient of your blood. All donors are required to present a government issued ID when registering to donate blood. This includes a driver's license, state issued ID card, military ID, passport or school ID.

What's the difference between whole blood donation and automated donation/apheresis?

Your blood contains a mixture of several components, including red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells, and plasma. During a whole blood donation, donors typically donate a pint of the mixture. During automated donation/apheresis, the donor is connected to a machine that draws blood and separates it into components. Depending upon the type of donation, one or more components are kept while the rest are returned to the donor. Automated/apheresis donors can help more people in need by donating more frequently and by donating more during each donation.

How long does donation take?

  • Whole blood donation takes about 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Automated donation/apheresis takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours. The blood donor center provides television, movies and wireless Internet access.

How often can I donate?

  • Whole blood: every eight weeks.
  • Platelets and plasma: every four weeks.
  • Platelets only: every two weeks but no more than 24 times in a 12-month period.

Can I donate if I have traveled outside the United States?

Travel to most countries will not prevent you from donating blood. However, travel to some countries may make donors ineligible for varying periods of time. The criteria are subject to change, so please discuss your eligibility with the Blood Donor Center.

Can I donate if I have a cold, flu or fever?

No. To donate, you must be symptom-free. If you feel well and have no fever, you may donate.

Can I donate when I am under the care of a doctor or dentist?

You may still be eligible to donate, depending on your condition. Donation is acceptable after routine teeth cleaning or dental work.

Can I donate if I am taking medication?

Most medications do not prevent you from donating blood. Common medications such as those used for blood pressure, birth control and over-the-counter medications do not affect eligibility. If you are taking antibiotics, you must have completed your course before donating. For information about other medications, contact the Blood Donor Center.

Can I donate if I recently got a tattoo?

If you got your tattoo before April 1, 2013, you must wait 12 months.

What should I do before I donate?

Before donating, you should eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids.